Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sharing Sunday January 31, 2016

Thought I'd help you out with a few ideas to fill in your February. If you're school is like mine we have parent conferences this month. Eeek!  So I could use all the help I can get.

My school is also doing something a bit unique in 2016. In hopes of increasing our Social Studies and Science scores for the upcoming GMAS testing, we are dedicating our entire Friday schedules to those subjects. So my grade level got together and designed a  45 min content lesson for both subjects, and a 45 minute technology lesson for social studies, and a 45 minute science experiment. That way we only had to plan for one lesson. Great collabo!

I thought I would share my Economics idea with y'all this month. I am using this as a great way to review material we haven't discussed since the beginning of the year since most of the Fourth Grade standards revolve around those earlier topics. I created an interactive ppt with four slides for the students to manipulate and reveal answers as they go. There is a worksheet involved as well for them to write down their thoughts for each slide.

You can click on this image to be able to click on all of the links:
Here's the worksheet that goes with the Economics Understanding slideshow.

Who can forget Valentine's Day? Here's some more fun for y'all

Just click on the image to see all the links

Head back to the Primary Peach for MORE February fun and freebies.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Harry Potter - Chapter 5 - Diagon Alley

I can't believe how quickly we've raced through the book so far. The first three chapters were for simple enjoyment. I didn't stress any real work, but to gauge how well they'd take to the book. Listening to their chuckles and outright giggles at the monstrosity that is the Dursleys, I knew they were going to enjoy this read aloud.

Once we got into Chapter 4 it was time to add more activities to our lessons. We looked at vocabulary. I stuck with four words at a time for each chapter. I wrote the words on a white board for them before we began. They copied each on a sticky note and put it onto a white lined piece of paper. As we read Chapter 4 I stopped when we came across one of them. I had them write down the sentence the word was in. We discussed what it could mean and then came up with a synonym (sometimes an antonym as well) and decided on part of speech.

There are now comprehension questions for every other chapter. The first two can be found from the text. I ask that they write it in such a way that isn't using information from the story. The evidence from the text goes in a separate box on the sheet. For example: The Dursleys wouldn't give Harry a proper bedroom. Evidence: He had to sleep in a cupboard under the stairs.

We have been doing some activities after our readings. The Wand Stories are done and floating on the wall outside our room under the banner of, "A Flutter of Letters."

Our House Cup Challenge is healthy as well. I need a ton of jelly beans! Hufflepuff is actually commanding a great lead out of all four houses.

The students have been haranguing me outside at recess for hints and spoilers. I am trying to be tight lipped, but they ask very pointed questions since most have seem several of the movies.

We've found the Pandora Harry Potter station and listen to that in the morning during our DBQ time. It's actually quieter now.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Harry Potter - Chapter One - The Boy Who Lived

I had to take a deep breath before uttering those words - The Boy Who Lived. I could go on and on about the amazing storytelling ability of JK Rowling and amaze over the subtleties she thought out from the very beginning. But this isn't about my love for her writing. It's about the students.

They all cracked open the cover of their brand new books and turned to chapter one, page one of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And we began... As we savored every word there were many gasps and "Oohs" as they recognized important details Ms. Rowling sprinkled throughout the book that would become major plot points later on. Now this is why I wanted to do this unit. The literary comprehension is catching on. They are seeing how an author establishes character traits and builds up backstory without giving everything away from the start.

The writing activity is flowing so naturally from our reading. They have been so enamored with their wands they can't seem to put them down. So asking them to think how this wand came to be was so easy. We spent one day on collecting details about how our wands looks, feel, and even smell. We brainstormed a list of woods to choose from and delved into magical creatures that might have donated an item to the wand's making. My class is pretty creative already with personal narrative writing, but this is the first time this year I've delved into the fantasy realm with them and they are blowing me away. Their stories are sequenced naturally and include details from their plans. Plus they are having fun with them and want me to read each one before they finish.

Normally I tell them I won't read the whole thing until they turn in their Final Drafts, only the section they feel fits in with that days lessons. But these are too fun not to read as they develop. To keep them quiet and working I've taken to playing the audio version of the book read by the amazing Jim Dale (another donorschoose item!) while they write.

During the day when I find a free moment or two, I find myself throwing in some wand lessons. Of course we started with

1.) ONLY point your wands away from people
2.) Keep your wands to yourself, this includes hitting, poking, or touching other people's stuff
3.) Keep your wand in a safe place. If it ends up on the floor, don't be surprised if someone steps on it.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Harry Potter Unit 01 - First Years Arrive

They arrived. Dragging their feet and rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, but they arrived. All 24 of them. 19 days away from the routines and procedures of school were clearly evident as they chattered like magpies over a few bits of string. Then they caught sight of their teacher who was dressed in a black robe and wearing a tall pointy hat. In his hand was a stick he kept waving around (think swish and flick) as they approached. Now, understand, these little ones have grown used to their teacher's eccentric moods, but this one was waaay beyond.

They greeted their teacher and may have passed a small word or two about the new year. Then they got to their desks. Quips of "What's this?" were used often when they located the folded bit of parchment waiting for them. It was addressed to them so they could open it. Confusion was the first response after reading this letter, but it soon dawned on them as they put the clues together. Their teacher was UP TO SOMETHING!

Like I mentioned before, there are only three days of school this week. I decided NOT to start reading the book until next week. But there is certainly tons of things that we can do before reading a book, right? I handed out their individual copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (thank you Donors Choose) and we discussed what they already knew about this character. They knew a lot, let me tell you. About 7 of them had already read the first book. We read the summary on the back and applied it to what we knew. I gave them some background on the author and chatted about theme and genre.

The next day we jumped on the train of character traits. There was some work to be done about separating out what is a trait and what is a feeling. We also thought about how these character traits could be collected in order to make a judgment about the person as a whole.

The third day was all about decorating our wands, so there was very little academia involved.

I had them paint the wands all black first in order to bring out the texture of the glue and then add new colors. Word to the wise: lay down paper before you let them start painting. Saves on TONS of mess. They had so much fun choosing and painting their wands. Many wanted to start using them already, but I told them they couldn't use them until they've passed the Wand Use 101 class. I was SIRIUS!

Another thing I did during this short week was have them work with their new housemates on a few projects to get them used to each other. I thought with it being the start of a new year it was perfect timing to get to know each other a little better. I had them fill out a survey with each other to get them talking.

They also had to take the concept from our character trait study and apply it to themselves. They needed to come up with three traits they all share and then design a house crest to hang above their seating area. This was an interesting conversation to listen to.

Here are a few more shots from our week:

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Harry Potter - First Day Jitters - Harry Potter set up

Okay, I think I'm ready.

I've got my costume set for tomorrow. The door is set up as Platform 9 3/4. It's a recycled Christmas decoration from another teacher. I removed the stockings. I might put a cauldron in the fireplace for the Floo Network, but that doesn't come about til Book 2.

I created all of the school folders needed for their Hogwarts Packets. 

I've got all of my stash out and ready for the Sorting Ceremony tomorrow. I've collected a few HP mementos over the years. Don't judge.

We've got this weird three day period this week to start off the new year. Not enough time to start anything new, so we'll be doing a lot of review with some fun projects thrown in. I found a foam friendship wheel (they last longer than the cardboard ones) for creating bracelets and figured out to do the easy stripe pattern from this picture.
Or you could try the 4 model without the wheel.


And we'll be making plastic mesh bookmarks in our house colors from this pinterest idea:

I cut the plastic mesh 7 holes across by 42 holes down. One sheet of 7.5 by 11 sheet gave me 16 bookmarks. I'm making a model and will let you know how it turns out.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Harry Potter - Wand Making 101

Today went a lot better than I expected. If you, like me, as a teacher have prior experience with a hot glue gun, you know my fears. When Amelia suggested that I buy large sized bamboo skewers and decorate them with hot glue I was a little frightened. But it worked!

I also thought it would take all day to get 24 of these things done. But it took less than half an hour to dribble hot glue down, around, swirled up, and across each of them to make them unique and special. The best part was figuring out how to use some leftover craft foam as a stand for them as they dried. I'm thinking I might use this later as a place to store them as they paint them as well.

I have tons of paint and glitter from my crafty scrapbooking days and can't wait to let the students loose on creating their own wands.

I have an inkling that we'll need to have a serious discussion about PROPER WAND USE before I let them use these. If you have any suggestions on how to keep this more controlled without any stabbing or poking of eyes, I'd sure appreciate it!

For another idea on how to make your own wands, you could check out this board that my newest buddy, Tina shared on her Harry Potter Pinterest board.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Harry Potter Novel Study prep - Hogwarts Here We Come!

Happy 2016!

I for one am excited about returning to school in a few more days. I have some serious plans for my little kiddos. They are going to FREAK~

I have had a few every year that like Harry Potter, some even as much as I do. This year I have several that don't just like Harry, they LOVE HIM!! I can't tell you how jealous they were when I had to explain I was taking a day off from school in order to go to Orlando to see the new Harry Potter park. They wouldn't speak to me for days.

Back in November a fun blog I follow started a new series. Amelia began detailing a novel study for her room and I was instantly riveted. You should check out Where the Wild Things Learn to see all her drool worthy lessons and super fun ideas. Her ideas were fun and above and beyond the call of a creative teacher. Totally fed into my inspiration brain node. I had to try it out.

She had a weekly update that I eagerly awaited, I may even have harassed her a little when she didn't post on time. By the fifth week, I was praying it wouldn't end. Sadly, it did. Now I'm just awaiting her TpT release of her ideas. When, Amelia? When???

I really wanted each of my students to have their own copy of HP01 but couldn't spend the money to secure twenty copies at $8 a pop. I started looking through Goodwill and used bookstores to find them. I wasn't having much luck. So I went back to an old stand by for funding my classroom.

Donorschoose has helped me tremendously in the past. Check out this blog post to see how I got four cameras for my Photography class. The one thing about them is that the materials need to stay with the schools. So the kids can't keep the books. Boo, but I think they'll have enough mementos from this unit that they will remember all the fun for a while.

I put together a donorschoose request in order to purchase the books and some other items to get us rolling on our Harry Potter Novel Study. These requests are up for three months for people to send in money to help you fund what you need. This particular request was funded in under two hours. Whoo HOO! The books arrived pretty quickly too. I actually had to hide them from the kids so they wouldn't spoil the surprise.

I was worried that some of my parents would not take too kindly to reading about witches and spells out loud in class. I tried to find a parent letter asking for permission to share this wonderful world of literature online. I couldn't find anything. So I wrote my own. I'm including the text here for you to use if you need to use it yourself. I folded these letters up, stapled, and taped them shut. Then I told the students that they were reminders for a parent meeting we had coming up so they wouldn't try to open them.

All of the letters came back with permission signed!

My first order of business is to create Hogwarts' Acceptance Letters for the kids' desks come Tuesday morning. One of them items I asked for was 50 sheets of parchment paper to give these letters a more authentic feel.

I went through the Sorceror's Stone to find how it was written for Harry himself so I could recreate it for the kids. I think I might print one out for myself to keep.

Hogwarts School
of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Headmaster: Albus Dumbledore
(Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock,
Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
Dear Mr. Potter,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted to Hogwarst School of Witchcraft and Wizards. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.
Harry's letter is signed by his future house mistress, Minerva McGonagall. I plan to sign it as my wizard professor name: Prof. Wilfred Waldicott, Prof. of Magical Studies. Professor Waldicott is going to be the COOLEST teacher come Wednesday, let me tell you!